Have you seen that t-shirt, the one that reads “I just want to drink wine and rescue dogs?” I am so there. You could be having the worst day ever and your dog will cheer you up.

I love my dog and he is a rescue, although at this point it’s really up for grabs as to who rescued whom. Jeter is part of our family and a constant reminder of how to live life well. Here are five life-affirming things that my dog reminds me of on a regular basis.

Get Outside Every Day

Everybody benefits from a walk. Through the park, through the neighborhood, up a mountain – walking with a dog is good exercise for your physical body and being in nature is nurturing to your spirit.

 
 

Be Welcoming

Jeter greets everyone as if they were the most important person he has met all day. He lives in a world where the quality of welcoming someone into his heart is always present. What a great way to greet others: I am so happy to see you that I just can’t stop wagging.

Splash in a Mud Puddle

Okay, I am not recommending that we all go splash around in mud puddles, but I will tell you that Jeter has never met a mud puddle that he didn’t like. And even though I have to wipe him down (or hose him off) to let him back into the house, the joy that he demonstrates by running through those dark little pools of water on the trail always brings a big grin to my face.

It’s as if he’s saying: Don’t forget to laugh. Don’t forget to play. Be in touch with your inner puppy.

Take Naps

Jeter punctuates his day with little naps and I find naps beneficial, too. Naps unwind stress. Recently I’ve started taking a 20 to 30-minute nap on the couch about 3:00 in the afternoon. I wake up refreshed and ready for the next part of my day. Jeter, of course, naps on the floor next to me.

Be Grateful for Your Kibble

I’ve worked with my dog so that he sits patiently while I mix his kibble and put it down. He doesn’t lunge for the food bowl, but instead waits until I tell him “Okay.” During that moment when our eyes meet, I always get the sense that he is saying thank you for his meal. He never takes mealtime for granted, and I don’t want to either. It is a blessing to have enough to eat.

I am thankful for my dog. I’ve also been a cat person and found that my cat had wise ways that improved my life, too. Don’t you sometimes feel like animals are little angels sent to help us to be better people?

Whether you have a pet who lives with you, or you are just watching the squirrels in your yard, communing with the animals around us contributes beneficially to our lives. This quote from the great Native American, Chief Seattle sums it up: “If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit.”

What do the animals in your world teach you about living and loving more fully? What lessons would you add to the ones from Jeter? Please share in the comments.

Stephanie RaffelockStephanie Raffelock is a novelist and a blogger. In her Sixty and Me column, she explores writing, living fully and loving well. She enjoys literary representation by Dystel, Goderich and Bouret in New York. You can find Stephanie at StephanieRaffelock.com or Tweet her @Sraffelock.

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